In a post on Science Blogs’ “The Pump Handle,” Liz Borkowski, a research associate at the George Washington University School of Public Health’s Department of Environmental and Occupational Health, recognizes World Water Day, discusses the importance of access to clean water and sanitation facilities, and writes, “This World Water Day is both a celebration of an achievement and a reminder that we still have a long way to go before everyone has the water, sanitation, and food needed to live healthy lives” (3/22).
Water and Sanitation
USAID’s water team on Thursday, World Water Day, published a new edition of their Global Waters Magazine to recognize the day, according to USAID’s IMPACTblog. The issue is available as an e-zine or a downloadable file (3/22). Also on Thursday, the Guardian’s “DataBlog” published graphics depicting the latest data from UNICEF and the WHO, which “show targets for safe drinking water are being met ahead of time” (Evans, 3/22).
Speaking at State Department headquarters in recognition of World Water Day on Thursday, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton “announced a new partnership of organizations to apply the nation’s abundant experience in water issues to solving global water challenges,” according to IIP Digital. “The partnership will bring together more than 30 agencies, institutions and advocacy organizations with diverse experience and knowledge of water issues,” the news service writes (Porter, 3/22). The U.S. Water Partnership will “creat[e] a platform for fostering new partnerships among the U.S.-based private sector and the non-profit, academic, scientific, and expert communities” and “will mobilize the ‘Best-of-America’ to provide safe drinking water and sanitation and improve water resources management worldwide,” according to a State Department press release (3/22). “Something as simple as better access to water and sanitation can improve the quality of life and reduce the disease burden for billions of people,” Clinton said, VOA News notes (3/22).
In this post in the Global Network for Neglected Tropical Diseases’ “End the Neglect” blog, Stephanie Ogden — a water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) and neglected tropical disease (NTD) consultant with Emory’s Center for Global Safe Water, Children Without Worms, and the International Trachoma Initiative — writes about a partnership among these organizations “that will encourage actionable dialogue and increased coordination between the NTD and WASH sectors.” She concludes, “I see more than ever that it will be essential for those in the WASH and NTD sectors to form long-term partnerships to achieve their common goals for health and development” (3/22).
“As we mark World Water Day, the alarming statistics underlying water scarcity are worth repeating. Worldwide 2.7 billion people are currently affected by water shortages,” Manish Bapna, acting president of the World Resources Institute (WRI), and Betsy Otto, director of WRI’s Aqueduct Project, write in a Forbes opinion piece, noting that population growth, increasing food demand, and climate change threaten access to water. “Clean, abundant water is essential for life and economic growth. Since it is a finite resource, we need to find solutions that will ensure we can use water more efficiently and mange water systems more wisely,” they state.
The Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) provides a fact sheet (.pdf) detailing its efforts to improve access to water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) in the developing world. According to the fact sheet, the MCC and its partner countries “have prioritized WASH sector development,” and “MCC has invested $793 million in WASH-related projects in nine partner countries” (3/19).
“This year on World Water Day, Thursday, March 22, the United Nations highlights the critical role water plays in food security, at a time when water supplies are already under severe strain in many parts of the world,” VOA News reports. As the world’s population expands, “the demand for water is growing along with the demand for food,” and agriculture accounts for 70 percent of water use worldwide, the news service notes (Baragona, 3/21). Additional information on World Water Day, which is coordinated by the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), is available online from U.N. Water (3/22).
IRIN examines malnutrition in Chad, writing, “Hovering at around 20 percent in some places, Kanem Region in western Chad is well-known for having some of the world’s highest continual severe acute malnutrition rates,” and, “unless something is done to improve the country’s ‘dysfunctional’ health system (as described by half a dozen interviewees), these malnutrition rates are unlikely to change significantly.” The news service “spoke to Ministry of Health staff, aid workers, government officials and mothers to find out if anything can be done to wean Chad from its dependence on emergency nutrition interventions.”
The U.N. Development Programme (UNDP) recently launched the Global Water Solidarity Platform “at the World Water Forum in Marseille, France, where 20,000 participants from the private, public and non-profit sectors [met] to address the water crisis,” according to a UNDP press release. “The Global Water Solidarity Platform, which is supported by the governments of France and Switzerland, connects local authorities and organizations to take action to solve water and sanitation challenges, through which, for example, municipal water authorities in more developed countries can take direct action to support the improvement of water and sanitation services in developing contexts by contributing one percent of their revenue or budgets,” the press release states (3/15).
“We don’t honor God when 4,500 children die every day — but they do — from the lack of something so simple, each of us takes it for granted: a safe glass of water,” Rabbi Jack Bemporad, executive director of the Center for Interreligious Understanding, and journalist Susan Barnett write in Huffington Post’s “Religion” blog. “Current U.S. funding for water and sanitation development amounts to less than one one-hundredth of a percent of the federal budget,” they write, adding, “Yet for every dollar invested, there’s an economic return of $8.” They continue, “With all the good work the faiths do, from malnutrition to malaria, it’s all being undercut by the overarching absence of clean water and sanitation. Not prioritizing the global water crisis defies logic. It prevents productivity, increases poverty and inequality for women.”